Wonderful, Glorious/Vagrant Records
eels’ Mark Oliver Everett (a.k.a. E!) loves making unique albums that span genres and incorporate primal vocal performances. For proof, check out his concept album trilogy of Hombre Lobo, End Times and Tomorrow Morning, or Blinking Lights and Other Revelations. Wonderful, Glorious attempts to continue this trend, but isn’t quite as successful. “Accident Prone”’s down-tempo guitars and Everett’s sedated, melodic vocals are beautifully unusual, and the way he channels Johnny Cash’s mumbling vocal on the dreamy guitar-driven ballad “On the Ropes,” is nothing short of eerie. But “Peach Blossom” and “Kinda Fuzzy” are classic eels—groovy, distortion-drenched, creepy rock—to the point of sounding derivative and unimaginative. At thirteen tracks, the album is a tad long. It starts to run out of steam right around track ten, but it is not without some charm as noted above. Wonderful, Glorious feels aimless in its search to find the things its title seems interested in discovering.
Does this group play jazz music? Tribal fusion? World music? Some other style entirely? This is part of the intrigue that defines Charlottesville-based group Quiet Fire, whose music crisscrosses over myriad genres like a nomad in search of its next home. The hypnotic percussion and rhythmic guitar on the opening track, “Elephanta Island,” combine with Miles Davis-like trumpet flourishes to give the track an unexpectedly tranquil, languid feel. The pace and structure of a “Kora’s Song” is more upbeat and improvisational, adding another dimension to the band’s music. “Twilight” sounds like a late-night jazzy jam session from the best dream sequence you’ve ever had, and the title track combines a variety of disparate sounds—sinister percussion, gorgeous acoustic guitar, lively bass, chaotic trumpet, and otherworldly electric guitar. The release is an imaginative, out of the ordinary, and exciting addition to the genre of instrumental music.
The Lives Inside the Lines of Your Hands/BMG
Singer-songwriter Matt Pond’s latest release, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hands, is essentially a pop record which employs the typical trope of wearing your heart on your sleeve with regard to the various ups and downs in relationships. It has fair number of lively melodies and upbeat rhythms, but it’s a little thin at times. The driving pop rock rhythm and somewhat wistful reminiscing about a failed relationship in “Hole in My Heart” perfectly capture the pervasive tone of this record. The pure pop of “Love to Get Used” looks at people who don’t believe they deserve any better, while “Go Where the Leaves Go” gives a nod to Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” with its ride-your-car-into-the-sunset vibe. The title track is this album’s best, with its talk of traveling America and lyrics like “Just because we’re in these bodies/Doesn’t mean there isn’t more.” Hands is a steady, if at times familiar and enjoyable album.